If I could Do Anything...
If I could do anything I want with unlimited time and plenty of resources, I would open up a Kindergarten classroom. And for that classroom I would select twenty students. They would be students with and without hearing, and sight, and the ability to walk. They would have high and low IQs, and those with social disorders such as autism and those without would also be in my Kindergarten class. Some would have ADD or ADHD, and some would not.
In that Kindergarten class, the only identity anyone would ever have would be his or her first and last names. We would all view learning and participating as a corporate experience in which everybody works together to learn what needs to be learned, and I would help each child figure out whatever style of learning was going to work best for him or her. Everybody would be expected to achieve the level he or she could achieve given the gifts and talents he or she possessed. The individual style of each individual child would be celebrated and accepted.
And when we went to the playground we would be engaged in activities in which the entire class had to work together to make sure everyone was involved. We would be happy as we all achieved a variety of goals together - and every day we would do something different that would accentuate the strengths and abilities and interests of our lovely variety of students. Yes, to an extent our play time would be structured, because children need to learn to work together, and because human beings in our society attempt to exclude people from a very young age.
And when that Kindergarten year ended, I would excitedly begin to plan the First Grade year. And then the Second Grade year...and all the way through graduation. And all through those years those students would grow together as scholars and human beings. There would be no "girl in the wheelchair" or "boy who is deaf". There would only be "Mikayla" and "Brian", "Cyndy" and "Tom".
It would just be a matter of routine life to know that Tom communicated through an Interpreter, and was a most amazing science student. Cyndy's wheelchair would mean nothing more than the way she navigated the world - just Brian used his legs and feet. Everybody, together, every day, would celebrate learning and progress. Maybe some wouldn't advance as high as others, but that wouldn't matter, because my classroom would be all about each individual trying as hard as he or she could, and achieving the most he or she could achieve. And, as a group, they would support and encourage each other's victories and successes - no matter how big or small they might seem to the real world.
And as Mikayla and Brian and Cyndy and Tom reached high school level, we would begin exploring the outside world together. We would learn about work and opportunities. The students would be so well-connected to each other that they would know more about what their classmates could DO than what they couldn't - because what people can DO would be our focus throughout all those school years. They would have a support system amongst each other that would help them define their dreams and figure out where their next steps could take them.
And they would leave that school with an attitude of acceptance, and the ability and desire to really look at people and to be willing to know human beings as human beings.
Yes. That's something I would do.
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